"Small" writing challenges for my small writing talent. Hotel note pads are the only space allowed. Let's see if I can strip it down and tighten it up to learn something. Improving my skill of weird fiction.
This was my grandmother’s typewriter. The role it played in her accomplishments means more to my growing family than just having something old and worth money to a collector. My grandmother pressed on those keys and imprinted her thoughts onto paper, wrenching out of the Royal De Luxe ‘A’ roller her doctoral dissertation in psychology; presented in 1935 at what is now called Iowa State University. Afterward, behind her name rested the letters Ph.D.
That was not exactly a time for any woman in the midwest to be more than a type-casted character of Americana. Let’s face it, thanks to our old movies and media, we think each person of the time has a stereotype attached. Ask yourself these questions about women in the nineteen thirties: What did women study in school? Who took care of the children in pre-war America? Who cooked dinner in pre-war America? Who kept a clean house in pre-war America? What happened when a husband heard that a woman psychologist talked with his wife? I’ll answer that one. According to history, he could easily puff a pipe, turn the page of his newspaper and say, “Oh really? Tomorrow we’ll see doctor so-and-so. He knows what to do.”
Had grandma practiced her degree, she would have forever met society’s roadblocks. So what did she do? She taught physical education for a short while then got married. She stopped working to raise three girls in a nineteen forty’s northern Michigan where the industry was iron and forestry, not psychology and high academia amongst peers. Does this sound like acceptance of her social norm role of the day? I don’t think so because her accomplishment was not to practice psychology in a man’s world. She went through the whole process of obtaining that doctorate at one of the few colleges that allowed women candidates into their program.
I grew up with many other boys in the Midwest who today would cherish their grandfather’s rifle more than anything else. Where a typewriter would hold no more gravity than its original metal weight. For my family, my young girls get to grow up seeing it and knowing that their great-grandma didn’t let her society barriers stop her from learning more and being more. She received her doctorate and in so doing, learned how to see deeper into why things were the way they were. She invested in understanding for herself what would benefit her children and their children.
Grandma died in 1997 during my senior university year. I remember how she treated all of us grandchildren. We knew there was more to spending time with her than just eating cookies and amazing strawberry-rhubarb pies. We learned there was more. But if there is anything I can give my kids as a way to connect with the benefits of having had her in our lives, this is one of the best things possible. My children will get to know and understand how much more is possible.